What to see in the Fifth arrondissement of Paris? © French Moments
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Last Updated: 17 April 2024

The Fifth arrondissement is home to one of the most famous monuments in Paris: the Panthéon. Located on the Left bank of River Seine, it is known as the Latin Quarter. The 5th arrt. is one of Paris’ oldest districts and visitors like it for its lively atmosphere.


A few words about the 5th arrondissement

Fifth arrondissement of Paris © ThePromenader - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
5th arrondissement of Paris © ThePromenader – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons
The Fifth arrondissement of Paris (le cinquième arrondissement) is situated on the left bank of River Seine. It often bears the name “Quartier Latin” (Latin Quarter).


Why part of the 5th arrondissement is called Latin Quarter?

The Latin Quarter takes its name from the Middle Ages when Latin was the language of learning at the Sorbonne.

It is considered Paris’ oldest district, along with Île de la Cité.

Indeed, remains from the Roman era are still visible today. Check out for:

Roman Forum in the Fifth arrondissement of Paris © French Moments
The wall of the Roman Forum in Paris © French Moments

The Latin Quarter is a district centred around the Sorbonne. It is home to many universities, colleges, and prestigious high schools. The district has a reputation for being a young lively atmosphere.

It is also remembered as being a major site for the events of May 1968. The student revolt led to a political, social, and cultural protest with barricades set up. And torn-up paving stones used as missiles!


The 5th arrondissement: facts and figures

The 5th arrondissement of Paris covers an area of 2.541 km2 with a population of 60,800 (2011). The district is overlooked by the dome of the Panthéon. The monument sits at the top of an elevated mount called Montagne Sainte-Geneviève (alt. 61 m above sea level).

The view from the top of the Panthéon, Paris © French Moments
The view from the top of the Panthéon, Paris © French Moments

The 5th arrt. includes some famous Parisian monuments such as the Panthéon, the Arab World Institute, and the National Museum of Natural History (including the Grand Gallery of Evolution).

The Latin Quarter is home to prestigious and historic universities and colleges: the Sorbonne university, the Jussieu university campus, Lycée Henri IV and the medieval Clovis Tower, Ecole Nationale Supérieure…

Two large public parks border the 5th arrt.: the Luxembourg Garden to the West and the Jardin des Plantes to the East. The latter includes the Ménagerie (France’s oldest public zoo).

A number of historic streets criss-cross the district. For example, Rue Saint-Jacques, Paris’ oldest street. Rue Mouffetard boasts a colourful and lively market.


Where to stay in the 5th arrondissement?

Hotels in Paris vary from stunning luxurious places like the Ritz and the Meurice to much simpler hotels in charming older parts of the city. However, due to its central location, you will find the level of prices of all types of accommodation quite high in the 5th arrt. Depending on your budget, might want to find cheaper accommodation further away from the hyper centre of Paris!

Here is a map showing the nearest accommodation:



Public institutions and organisations in the 5th arrt

Sorbonne from Rue Saint-Jacques, Fifth arrondissement © French Moments
The Sorbonne from Rue Saint-Jacques © French Moments

A few public institutions and organisations have their seat in the 5th arrt:

  • the Sorbonne University (founded in the mid-12th century. This is one of the oldest universities in Europe)
  • the Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et de la Recherche (Ministry of Higher Education and Research)
  • the Val de Grâce (major military hospital)


Main places of interest in the 5th arrondissement

Rue Mouffetard, Fifth arrondissement of Paris © French Moments
The lively Rue Mouffetard, a riot of colour at a market! © French Moments

The 5th arrondissement includes one of Paris’ most famous monuments: the Panthéon. There are many other places of interest to be discovered. Most of them are situated on the slopes of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève and near the banks of the River Seine.

The main places of interest in the 5th arrondissement are:


Museums in the 5th arrt.

  • the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and the Grand Gallery of Evolution >> Get your Priority Entrance Ticket! <<
  • the Ménagerie (France’s oldest zoo) >> Get your Priority Entrance Ticket! <<
  • the Police Museum (free entrance)
  • the Thermes and Hôtel de Cluny (National Museum of the Middle-Ages). Note that the museum is undergoing restoration. Therefore the complex is partially opened. Until the end of renovation works (Spring 2021), you have restricted access to the frigidarium, the Gallo-Roman baths (guided tours only), the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry, a selection of treasuries (70 items) and temporary exhibitions. More info…


Historic churches in the 5th arrt.

The district also includes a number of historic churches:

  • Saint Séverin-Saint Nicolas church (13th-14th centuries) – Flamboyant Gothic. Look for the pillar in the shape of a palm tree in the ambulatory!
  • Saint-Julien le Pauvre church (early 13th century) – Romanesque and early Gothic. This is one of the oldest churches in Paris.
  • Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church (15th-17th centuries) – Flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance. The church is the only one in Paris which has kept its rood screen.
  • Saint-Jacques du Haut-Pas church (16th-17th centuries) – Neo-Classical
  • Saint-Médard church (15th-18th centuries) – Flamboyant Gothic
  • Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet church (17th-18th centuries) – Neo-Classical
The Interior of Saint-Séverin church, Fifth arrondissement of Paris © French Moments
The Interior of Saint-Séverin church, Paris © French Moments


Shopping recommendation in the 5th arrt.

The 5th arrondissement isn’t maybe the most exciting shopping district in Paris.

That said, you can expect to see a number of bookstores as it’s an area full of students, and you’ll also find lots of typical cafés. 

Shakespeare and company, Fifth arrondissement of Paris © French Moments
Shakespeare and company in Spring © French Moments

Here are a few addresses I spotted/visited when strolling in ‘le Quartier Latin’:

👉 If you’re interested in old books and prints, check out the bouquinistes on the banks of the River Seine.

👉 Don’t miss the picturesque and colourful market of Rue Mouffetard. The lively street happens to be a shopping one with great food stores (bakery, butcher, caterer…)

👉 Boulevard Saint-Michel and Boulevard Saint-Germain are the busiest streets of the 5th arrondissement with many cafés, restaurants and shops.

☕️ You’ve probably heard of Shakespeare & Co, Paris’ oldest bookstore. Did you know the vintage institution opened its own coffee shop? Sit outside and enjoy the view of the towers of Notre-Dame Cathedral (37 Rue de la Bûcherie).

🥖 According to the 2019 competition for the Paris’ best baguette, the best boulangerie is in the 5th arrondissement called Paris & Co Écoles, 4 bis rue des Écoles.

🛌 Looking for a place to stay? Click here for an exhaustive list of the 5th arrondissement of Paris.


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Discover the Fifth Arrondissement of Paris © French Moments

Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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